Self-incompatibility-induced programmed cell death in field poppy pollen involves dramatic acidification of the incompatible pollen tube cytosol

Katie A. Wilkins, Maurice Bosch, Tamanna Haque, Nianjun Teng, Natalie S. Poulter, Vernonica E. Franklin-tong

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Self-incompatibility (SI) is an important genetically controlled mechanism to prevent inbreeding in higher plants. SI involves highly specific interactions during pollination, resulting in the rejection of incompatible (self) pollen. Programmed cell death (PCD) is an important mechanism for destroying cells in a precisely regulated manner. SI in field poppy (Papaver rhoeas) triggers PCD in incompatible pollen. During SI-induced PCD, we previously observed a major acidification of the pollen cytosol. Here, we present measurements of temporal alterations in cytosolic pH ([pH]cyt); they were surprisingly rapid, reaching pH 6.4 within 10 min of SI induction and stabilizing by 60 min at pH 5.5. By manipulating the [pH]cyt of the pollen tubes in vivo, we show that [pH]cyt acidification is an integral and essential event for SI-induced PCD. Here, we provide evidence showing the physiological relevance of the cytosolic acidification and identify key targets of this major physiological alteration. A small drop in [pH]cyt inhibits the activity of a soluble inorganic pyrophosphatase required for pollen tube growth. We also show that [pH]cyt acidification is necessary and sufficient for triggering several key hallmark features of the SI PCD signaling pathway, notably activation of a DEVDase/caspase-3-like activity and formation of SI-induced punctate actin foci. Importantly, the actin binding proteins Cyclase-Associated Protein and Actin-Depolymerizing Factor are identified as key downstream targets. Thus, we have shown the biological relevance of an extreme but physiologically relevant alteration in [pH]cyt and its effect on several components in the context of SI-induced events and PCD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-779
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number3
Early online date28 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


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